The government has urged Brits to be “patient” over the prospect of booking a summer holiday this year due to coronavirus uncertainty.
Health secretary Matt Hancock, who has already booked a break in Cornwall, said the rollout of coronavirus vaccines is “absolutely essential” for summer holidays to take place.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I know that people are yearning for certainty over whether they can have a summer holiday, but pandemics are difficult times and there is a lot of uncertainty, so I am afraid that people will have to be patient before we can get that certainty.
“We are doing everything that we possibly can to make sure that people can have a holiday this summer but the vaccine rollout is absolutely essential to that.
“We will set out more in more detail when we can, but at the moment unfortunately there is that uncertainty still.”
His comments come a day after Boris Johnson warned it was “too early for people to be certain about what we will be able to do this summer”, and transport secretary Grant Shapps claimed “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now”.
Holidays are banned under the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown, but the travel industry is desperate for rules to be relaxed in time for the vital summer season.
Noel Josephides, chairman of tour operator Sunvil, said he believes once people are vaccinated they will not be worried about travelling abroad.
He told LBC: “To put it bluntly, vaccination isn’t only about preventing death, but is giving the ability to live.”
Josephides said the prime minister and various ministers have “never been completely accurate” during the pandemic, adding: “This is a huge, huge industry, a million jobs are at stake, and we don’t believe that once people are vaccinated they are going to worry about travelling abroad.
“And it’s on that basis that we are going ahead. And if, in fact, the government waits until everybody is vaccinated then by that time there won’t be a travel industry.”
Heathrow announced on Thursday that its passenger volumes were down 89% in January compared with the same month in 2020.
Just 677,000 passengers travelled through the west London airport last month.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown